THE SUMMIT OF OUR EXISTENCE

He says it’s a deal breaker. I say it’s not like I gave him swine flu. And I was not the only guilty one. My mother and father both sat through the speech and never heard him quoted with reverence. But if the official transcript, and telephone calls from friends, are to be believed, then His Grey Eminence was indeed cited by Dean Barrow of Belize in his speech at the opening ceremony of the Summit of Americas. Instead of jabbering on about not being appreciated by his own family he should be grateful. Had I heard the speech properly I would have been forced to make him bathe the dog, blow dry the dog’s hair, and cut the dog’s nails – all for the sake of keeping his ego in check. Instead when later told that his words of wisdom had been extolled I thumped him on the back in a gesture of pride and treated Jack to a mani/pedi at the vet’s.

The Summit may have passed you by but it was worth watching how a small island like Trinidad hosts the Big Boys – including Head Boy, Obama. Substantive outcomes were not on the Summit agenda. Fancy cars to ferry leaders back and forth were. Our agenda was for each two-by-four leader of every coral outcrop to have his/her picture taken with Barack. Too bad Barbados PM Thompson could not stop playing with his crackberry even while the official photo was being taken. And if there were a prize for “best Summit photo” it would be the one of Lara showing Obama how to swing a cricket bat. Thankfully we now know one thing Obama is absolutely crap at doing.

Apart from the photo opportunities, Trinidad laid on an all-inclusive fete the likes of which have not been witnessed since the heady days of partying with Louis XIV at Versailles. Did someone forget to mention the current global recession to the host government? Every single citizen of any talent was employed in our cultural extravaganza. Each aspect of Caribbean history, from the Caribs and Arawaks right through to the present day, was portrayed through song and dance for the benefit of guests. And just to be sure they understood that the men dancing with lowered heads and chains on their hands were depicting slaves, the announcer proclaimed this two minute segment of the cultural show “Slavery”. In due course Indian Tassa drummers with huge grins were also gravely announced as “Indentured Labourers”. And so it continued to the present day. I expected the show to climax with an effigy of Madoff made of dollar bills but had to settle for “A New Dawn” of peach and pink costumes fluttering on the stage.

Once we had shown the Big-Ups who we are and how we got here, the host Prime Minister thought this image should not be sullied by actually allowing real people to get near the venue. So, he put the entire nation under virtual house arrest. Port-of-Spain, a thriving capital, was reduced to a ghost town. Even the homeless had to be homeless some place far from visiting eyes. Maybe PM Manning was just being cautious that we did not expose our visitors to the horrendous crime rate that continues to be a feature of everyday life in Trinidad. The Jamaicans took a more liberal view of freedom of movement of its citizens when the Canadian PM flew from the Summit to Kingston for bi-lateral talks. But as if to prove we small islanders cannot be trusted, a “mentally disturbed” teenager, brandishing a gun, tried to hijack a Canadian aircraft bound from Montego Bay to Cuba. The hijacker demanded that the pilot take him to, wait for it, Cuba. The silly sausage should have just stayed put in seat 16F and he would have been delivered to the revolution. Instead he is sitting in a cell far from Havana and has had his Face Book page removed.

But for all its quirks and failures it is still wonderful to be back in Bim. A few things have changed. A classified add has announced that “Indian “wash him out your hair” oil is back in stock so get your supplies now”. The giant African snails that had previously been a problem in our garden appear to have gone back to Africa. Either that or Mr. Fenty the gardener (yes, he is a distant relation of Rihanna) has worked magic with something in a black bag he calls “Deadline”. I feel sure most of the pesticides used are banned in the EU and North America so we communicate on a “need-to-know” basis only. First and Second Born have concluded that they would be completely happy if only Barbados had a Bowling Alley and their friend Freddie visited more often. I am completely happy just to be with them.